Prior to the global COVID-19 pandemic, remote data center management services were already a key component of many businesses’ operations. However, throughout 2020, as lock-downs of companies’ on-premises and colocation data centers spread worldwide, fast and easy access to onsite technical resources to perform mission critical work on their colocation infrastructure was required. These services can include either on-site personnel, such as Equinix Smart Hands®, remote management software, such as Equinix IBX SmartView™, or a simpler way to enter and track orders and service requests online.
According to an article in DataCenter Knowledge the following trends will continue well into the future, “Data center providers are using the technology to both help customers with limited physical access to their infrastructure and reduce their own personnel’s foot traffic in their facilities. On-premises enterprise data center operators have also turned to remote management of their technical infrastructure.”[i]
A key aspect of successful remote data center and IT infrastructure management is simplifying and accelerating the end-to-end process for customers.
Free Up Resources and with Equinix Smart Hands™ Support Plan
IT infrastructure requires around-the-clock maintenance, support and crisis assistance. That’s why Equinix® introduced the Smart Hands Support Plan. Our Smart Hands experts are your eyes, ears, and hands onsite, offering a full scope of services including remote management, installation, and troubleshooting.Read More
How we’re simplifying the customer experience
We’ve always been customer-centric in our perspective and have developed automated customer interfaces to simplify the ordering and deployment of infrastructure components and services. For example, we currently offer automated user portals for our Equinix Fabric™, Network Edge and Equinix Customer Support Services, but we aren’t stopping there. As mentioned in an earlier article on how we’re helping our customers grow, “we are pursuing simplicity to accelerate our customers’ agenda across all that we do.” In that vein, we are reimagining our customers’ digital experience (DX) around three pillars ꟷ Convergence, Consistency, and Coherence.
Convergence means moving our customers toward a more unified user digital experience, rather than offering different portals for each solution. We’d like to converge all the different customer portals/processes into a single, seamless, consistent experience, with one user login where users can explore and switch between the different services seamlessly.
Consistency means visually delivering our services simply in a consistent way across various Equinix products and services to improve the overall user DX. From visual design guide to interaction flows, users should find congruence in user DX. For example, one of our goals is to make ordering intuitive, simplify scheduling and remove ambiguity. We want to take a phased approached to bring consistency to the user experience through one common Equinix design system.
Coherence means that we can use common services across various product and services in one way. We are looking to reuse and enhance many of the services that we’ve spent years building and finetuning with our customers’ input, such as self-service support, discovery and notifications. We are looking at how we can leverage the economies of scale we’ve already developed with these components, remove redundancies and automating these services so that we are addressing our customers’ needs faster.
Phase 1: Smart Hands enhancements
Equinix offers its global customers both data center infrastructure services and Smart Hands on-site, 7 x 24 operational support service for remote management, installation and troubleshooting. As a result, providing these services globally during the pandemic lock-down and system supply chain crisis over the last year was already in full swing. The restricted travel during the pandemic led to a 30% increase in Smart Hands activities starting in Q2 2020, and we complete thousands of Smart Hands activities every day. These Smart Hands remote management engagements are increasing as our customers are seeing how important Smart Hands is to their overall Equinix experience.
Moving forward, we’re rolling out enhancements that will simplify the Smart Hands Service Catalog by categorizing and grouping related services as shown below:
Our goal is to streamline the end-to-end Smart Hands customer DX through our intelligent ordering solution ꟷ one that will provide guided ordering that allows real-time customer contact with the service technician and transparency throughout the entire order lifecycle, including status updates, in a single view. This aligns with our plan to evolve the Equinix Customer Portal into a one-stop shop, with greater visibility into pricing details for an entire order and access to all Equinix order notifications. We are providing a simple visualization of the order status that our customers can understand with a single glance. For example, a customer can quickly look at the portal and see what things are completed, in progress or where we need additional information before we can move forward.
We are also regionalizing the user experience with localized testing and support in 16 languages. We believe these improvements to our order processing experience will make it easier and more efficient for both our customers and service technicians, ultimately increasing customer satisfaction and our operational efficiency.
Moving forward with modernizing the user DX
We are also focusing on our user permissions and access management so that we can modernize our customer resource identity to be more flexible. Our goal is to make all of these new Smart Hands interfaces and services available by the end of 2021, with subsequent phases rolling out in the following year.
We look forward to leveraging these new capabilities to eliminate the need for back and forth communications between the customer and technician before starting work on the order.
Learn more about Smart Hands.
[i] DataCenter Knowledge, “Mission Critical: The COVID-19 Pandemic and Data Centers,” by Maria Korolov, Dec 01, 2020.